Warming trend approaches as residents dig out

Feb. 14, 2014 @ 04:24 PM

A warming trend’s on the way with forecasts calling for daytime temperatures in the high 40s and mid-50s over the next few days.

And if the forecast for Thursday holds true, the Triangle could see temperatures near 70 degrees to match the balmy weather enjoyed this week by athletes and visitors at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 

But first the region has one more storm system coming through, mild compared to Wednesday’s winter storm that brought the Triangle to a crawl after dumping several inches of snow.

Mike Moneypenny, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh, said that system is expected to bring a mix of rain and snow Friday night and early today before tapering off.

“It will be long gone by mid-afternoon,” Moneypenny said. “Then, we’re looking for a gradual warm-up.”

From there, the forecast only gets better for those weary of snow and cold weather.

“We’re looking at the upper 40s Sunday, 50s on Monday and then we’ll get to 60 on Tuesday,” Moneypenny said.

By Thursday, he said, temperatures in the Triangle could reach the upper 60s, and well in reach of the record of 75 degrees for Feb. 20, which was set in 1939.

“It’s not out of the realm of possibility,” Moneypenny said.

But because Thursday’s warming comes with cloud cover, Moneypenny said breaking the record is only an outside possibility.    

Digging out

Wednesday’s winter storm closed area schools for two days, leaving students and parents to fret over makeup days possibly cutting into spring break.

Residents across Durham began to dig out on Thursday, and those who returned to work Friday early on found the going slippery.

Between midnight and early Friday afternoon, Durham police reported 34 accidents, nine that involved injuries.

Vehicles overturned on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway near Old Chapel Hill Road, Garrett Road near Swarthmore Road and Durham Freeway near Swift Avenue.

There were no serious injuries, according to the Police Department’s watch commander.

Abandoned cars

Besides leaving behind slippery roads and sidewalks, the snow storm also left abandoned cars littering roadways, making it tough for motorists to navigate and even tougher for plows to clean secondary roads, many of which remained covered with ice and snow early Friday.

State and local law enforcement officials had been lenient, opting not to tow the hundreds of cars left behind by harried motorists unless they created a hazard by blocking roadways.

But on Friday, the Sheriff’s Office cracked down, ordering owners to retrieve their abandoned cars removed or risk having them towed.

“The road conditions are to the point where if you drive safely and responsibly, then you should be able to go and get your car,” said Deputy Paul Sherwin, spokesman for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. “The expectation is that you go get your car and move it out of the way.”

Sherwin said 124 cars were abandoned on county roads, outside the city limits.

Durham police officials also issued a warning Friday to motorists who abandoned their cars.

“The Durham Police Department’s grace period for moving vehicles abandoned due to Wednesday’s storm ends today,” department officials said in a statement.

Officials said vehicles blocking or partially blocking travel lanes would be towed at the other expense.

Meanwhile, Chapel Hill began towing abandoned vehicles in the city limits on Friday, urging motorists to retrieve them for the “safety of the traveling public and to ensure that plow and salt/sand trucks can clear roads.”

Vehicles outside the city limits were towed only if they were considered a safety hazard.

Car towed?

Durham motorists who left their cars within the city limits and returned to find that it has been towed should call the Police Department’s front desk at (919) 560-4427 to locate their cars.

If your car was towed in Durham County (outside the city limits), call the Sheriff’s Office at (919) 560-0900.

Be prepared to provide your license plat number and description of the car.

If you call, and the Sheriff’s Office didn’t order you car towed, call the N.C. Highway Patrol at (919) 733-3861.

In Chapel Hill, call the Chapel Hill Police Department at (919) 968-2760 for cars towed from inside town limits and the Highway Patrol at (919) 733-3861 for those outside town limits.